The question at a July rocket launch in Tucson isn't "Will it be hot?", but "How hot will it be?" This year wasn't too bad. The morning broke to mid-level clouds, relieving rocketeers from the direct rays of the sun, at least for a little while. Even after the sun came out, the temperatures weren't as bad as one would expect. The result was a great day of flying.
As dawn broke over the TIMPA site on the morning of Saturday, March 24, the tents and RVs slowly disgorged sleepy-eyed campers into a beautiful, calm morning. The launch pads were ready, the PA system crackled to life, and two critical elements to the success of any rocket launch began preparation: large pots of strong coffee, and rocket motors.
Thus began the start of Desert Heat 2012, the annual two-day rocketry celebration hosted by Tucson's own Southern Arizona Rocketry Association. Volunteers took their places at the registration table, safety check-in, LCO desk, and Rent-a-Rock stations. Carloads of fliers, family supporters, and onlookers joined the campers who had arrived the previous evening. The steady stream of cars continued throughout the morning and early afternoon, providing a crowd estimated at close to a thousand people during its peak. Rockets were assigned pads, and the flying began in earnest. Before the event ended on Sunday at 1:00 p.m., 774 rockets would be launched, a record for a SARA event.
Human Spaceflight became a reality 51 years ago with the launch of a capsule called "Vostok 1" on April 12th, 1961. The capsule was carrying Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who took his place in history as the first human to leave the bounds of Earth and enter outer space.
Every year, thousands of space enthusiasts gather around the world for Yuri's Night to remember and celebrate this monumental achievement which opened the floodgates to manned exploration of outer space. This year's theme is Make an Impact.
One of SARA's commitments is outreach to the community, encouraging young people's interest in math and science through rocketry. We will again be participating in the Yuri's Night celebration at the Pima Air and Space Museum on April 13th from 5PM - 9PM.
The Pima Air & Space Museum will bring community Space Science educators to the museum for an evening of hands on learning and inspiration for children of all ages. The event includes hands on activities and historical connections to manned space flight with lectures and demonstrations by local science educators.
Admission after 5:00pm is $10.00 for adults and children 12 and under free. Last admission is at 8:00pm.
The Flight Grill will be open for dinner.
The Southern Arizona Rocketry Association (SARA) had a great booth featuring the Crayon Rocket flown by the Arizona Rocketry Team (AZRT) to over 3,200 AGL at Desert Heat 2012 then donated to SARA for community outreach events like this.
Steve Lubliner also demonstrated different types of rockets by launching them outside between the aircraft on display!
The SARA launch on Saturday, February 25 began with clear blue skies, pleasant temperatures, and a slight wind. It was the kind of day that reminds us why we love the Tucson climate (at least until June rolls around). Fears that the winds would increase as the morning wore on, as they often do, were unfounded this day. In fact, the winds slowly decreased throughout the morning, providing perfect conditions for flying rockets large and small.
134 flights were launched, with 120 model rockets and 14 rockets using high power motors. While every flight is special to the builder of the rocket, a few launches particularly stood out. Steve Lubliner launched two different rockets that used helicopter recovery; both flew beautifully and landed as light as a feather, drawing applause from the assembled crowd. An usual high-drag design made from a plastic champagne glass flew well on its maiden flight. Rent-a-rocs were also popular, helping to introduce new fliers to this exciting hobby.
The breakdown of motors flown includes some clusters and two-stage rockets, which is why the total number of motors is higher than the total number of flights:
1/2A – 2; A – 28; B – 14; C – 41; D – 17; E – 8; F – 9; G – 6; H – 3; I – 7; J – 3
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